With the holidays quickly approaching, the U.S. Postal Service is hiring 28,000 seasonal workers in the Keystone State and across the country. The Postal Service also plans to add 1,000 more truck drivers, letter carriers, and processing team members.
Kimberly Miller, president of the Postal Workers Union Keystone Area Local 1566, said the hiring blitz is necessary to keep up with demand.
The USPS was also affected by the pandemic and its workforce is logging massive numbers of hours.
Miller added the worker shortage means some post offices are closing their windows early, and could also experience delays in processing and on-time mail delivery.
“We’re struggling to maintain the hours, especially in the Harrisburg area,” Miller said. “We had Carlisle Post Office last year that went weeks without delivery – and until the union got involved and said, ‘Hey, look, this is an unsafe work condition. You need to clear the floor, you need to bring people in and get this mail to the customers.’ ”
This month, three Pennsylvania Congressional members sent a letter with a list of demands to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, asking him to address ongoing mail-service problems in the state. The letter detailed instances of late or inconsistent deliveries, wrongfully delivered mail, lost packages, as well as opened and stolen mail.
Peter Rachleff, labor historian and co-executive director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, said as the country sees a comeback in union participation and organizing, it seems clear a younger generation of workers at the Postal Service will keep pushing for a better job environment.
“I think they’ve looked at what the previous generation experienced,” Rachleff said. “Which was ever-diminishing returns and for ever harder work, and they’re realizing that they need to take action if their lives are going to be better than the lives that their parents had experienced.”
Rachleff explained the U.S. has some strong workplace protection laws on the books, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, but he added that the agencies responsible for enforcing these laws are underfunded and understaffed.